Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Singapore, 2014

All eyes on Honda’s role in 2015 driver market

2015 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

The recent calls from some teams for the engine freeze regulations to be relaxed was not just a question of them trying to increase their chances of catching Mercedes. It was also significant in terms of the driver market for 2015.

The three-pointed star has conclusively beaten its rivals this year, and the prospect that the limits on engine development will keep them from being caught in the near future will inevitably lead drivers with French or Italian power units to seek a Mercedes-powered berth for next season.

However with both W06s already occupied for next season, and given a move to three-car teams is not going to happen in time for next year’s Australian Grand Prix, there are no vacancies there for anyone to take advantage of.

But as we have often seen in F1, just because a driver is contracted to a team for a season does not mean they will end up driving for them.


Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Singapore, 2014The Spanish and Italian media has doggedly pursued the possibility that Fernando Alonso might be first among those looking for a change of team. In the run-up to last month’s Italian Grand Prix he dutifully told the Ferrari faithful he wants to stay at the team but, as many quickly pointed out, that is not the same as saying he will – even with a contract which currently takes him up to 2016.

It goes without saying that Alonso did not join Ferrari in 2010 with the expectation they would fail to win a championship together in five seasons. But their latest setback is by far the most serious – it denotes a failure to capitalise on a change in engine rules which always looked likely to threaten the Red Bull hegemony. Not only have Ferrari been thrashed by Mercedes, they currently languish well over 100 points behind Red Bull despite the world champions suffering a truly dreadful winter.

Root-and-branch change at the teams is underway following the replacement of Stefano Domenicali by Marco Mattiacci in April and the impending departure of president Luca di Montezemolo this month. But 17 months after his last race win and eight years after his last championship, Alonso’s patience may have reached its limit.

Given the drama which accompanied his departure from McLaren in 2007, it seems extraordinary Alonso might be contemplating a reconciliation with Ron Dennis and could terminate his Ferrari contract – no doubt at significant cost – in order to walk through the doors of the McLaren Technology Centre and get his hands on a McLaren-Honda MP4-30.

But the Spanish media are increasingly convinced such a deal could happen – and the announcement may be timed to coincide with Honda’s home event this weekend, although the engine manufacturer has played that down.

That would leave Ferrari looking for a replacement to drive alongside Kimi Raikkonen, whose two-year deal takes him up to the end of next season.


Jenson Button, McLaren, Hockenheimring, 2014The Honda deal restores McLaren alongside Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull as a ‘works’ engine operation. It therefore follows they require a top-name driver.

In Jenson Button they have a world champion who knows Honda well and has a deep affection for Japanese culture. But that may not prove sufficient to keep him in the team if a driver of Alonso’s calibre is available.

McLaren also have a logjam of young driver talent. Last year they elbowed Sergio Perez aside to bring in Kevin Magnussen. They also have Stoffel Vandoorne, who has impressed in Formula Renault 3.5 and GP2.

Further down the line Nyck de Vries has scooped the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and ALPS titles this season. McLaren are starting to look like they could use their own Toro Rosso-style satellite outfit.

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Singapore, 2014For the past few years Red Bull have operated their own driver market largely independent of their rivals. New talent arrives at Toro Rosso and generally gets two or three years before being promoted to the top team or, more usually, discarded.

Of course that would change if one of their drivers decided there was a better option available. It’s hard to imagine them letting Daniel Ricciardo, arguably the revelation of the season, slip away. But are Sebastian Vettel’s thoughts turning to take on a new challenge?

Vettel has got five races left this year to prevent it being his first full season campaign without a victory. He’s been dogged by technical problems and repeatedly beaten by his new team mate. And he knows the input of star designer Adrian Newey will decline once this season is over.

Seeing Vettel in something other than Red Bull colours would be almost as big a shock as Alonso going back to McLaren. While Vettel may also be a target for the Woking team, he has been linked on many occasions with a move to Ferrari. Does he want to ‘do a Schumacher’?


Pastor Maldonado has already re-signed for 2015 but Romain Grosjean’s intense dissatisfaction with the team’s performance was plain to see at Singapore. Just 12 months ago he fought the Red Bulls for victory at Suzuka but he heads to this weekend’s race striving to add to his meagre eight-point tally.

Should he move on, a potential replacement could come from Lotus’s large stable of junior drivers. Esteban Ocon is one driver who’s been tipped for the switch. The French teenager is currently leading the European Formula Three championship ahead of a driver whose place on the 2015 grid has already been announced: Max Verstappen.

But with seats at the front of the grid in play, the rest of the driver market is likely to remain static until the biggest names have settled in their seats for 2015.

Over to you

Should Alonso keep the faith with Ferrari – or take a gamble on McLaren and Honda? Who else are you expecting to switch seats over the winter?

Have your say in the comments.

2015 F1 season

Browse all 2015 F1 season articles

Images © Ferrari/Ercole Colombo, McLaren/LAT, Red Bull/Getty

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

Posted on Categories 2015 F1 season

Promoted content from around the web | Become a RaceFans Supporter to hide this ad and others

  • 84 comments on “All eyes on Honda’s role in 2015 driver market”

    1. Unfortunately for Grosjean, I don’t see where else he can move. His best bet is probably to hang around Lotus and hope the 2015 car is stronger. Then again, if it does turn out to be a dud, people may begin to forget how good a driver he has become.

      1. I agree. There’s simply no room for him further up the grid. Maybe if Button was retiring he’d be third choice for that seat behind Alonso and Vettel, but now, surely, if McLaren don’t get one of those two, Button will stay put.

        He proved himself at the end of 2013 and as long as he doesn’t regress into his crash-happy state and continues to beat his team-mate, his reputation will remain in tact.

      2. @jarnooo, well they’re looking like getting Mercedes power next year, so thats an upside. On the downside this may mean Grosjean will lose his sponsorship with Total seeing as they supply fuel for the team.

        1. The Mercedes power will be a big bonus for the team… given that the worst Mercedes team this year has scored podiums.

          1. Its not only Mercedes that comes in – there is also Petronas – so, Total might have a conflict of interest there. Also remember that Total pays Grosjean’s salary. So, Grosjean really might find himself without a ride next year.

      3. Engine alone will make that twin-tuck failure look like a proper racing car so in case Eric and Ron don’t call him, Grosjean should stay at Lotus.

        1. what was the designer thinking about that twin lop-sided nose? who knows?
          Anyway, Grosjean should stay but if an offer comes from Torro Rosso would it be worth moving to them as in the long run he could end up in Red Bull. I dont really like Grosjean but he’s matured has earnt some respect from me. If i was Lotus i would sack that lunatic Maldonado from the team and hire a youth with “potential” not someone that buys their seat.

    2. I think that Ferrari have made radical changes this year in an attempt to appease the Ferrari heirarchy and to a lesser degree Alonso. I don’t think Ferrari could do any more to keep Alonso given that they have up heaved the entire team. Will it be enough though? Will Alonso see the benefit in the next 2 years? Those are the burning questions, its a roll of the dice either way, are McLaren and Honda going to be on it from day dot? In my opinion, I wouldn’t be surprised if Alonso chose either option, he knows the teams fairly well, yes he’s been away from McLaren for a while, and the parting wasn’t on best of terms, but I think time heals old wounds…
      I flipped a coin, and it said Alonso will drive for McLaren Honda in 2015… Sorry, I didn’t have an octopus.

      1. Well I happened to have an octopus. I flipped it and it came up ‘tails’, meaning Alonso stays at Ferrari. Then again there were 8 ‘tails’ versus one head, so I think the odds may have been a bit stacked.

      2. @dragoll
        The octopus died mate! Arent the German’s on to an elephant now?

        As a an Alonso fan, Im really undecided as to whether I want him to move to Mclaren or not. Its like being caught between a rock and hard place, you never know what you’re going to get with either team. Will James Allison be able to work some magic on next years car? Perhaps on the chassis front. From what we’ve seen this year, the chassis isnt a total failure, their engine lets them down big time. Unless they’re allowed to update the engine, I suspect its going to be pretty much the same for Ferrari next year. My bet is that the engine upgrades will be allowed…Red Bull have a lot of influence these days and you can be sure that Christian Horner will be out there cajoling Bernie and the FIA.

        Fernando to Mclaren in 2016 is my bet.

    3. It’s all a bit of a complex situation and in reality I think the most likely scenario is that we will see very few changes. There are two major talking points here:
      1) Honda wanting a superstar (ie: Vettel or Alonso) to slot into their seats at McLaren.
      2) The current WDC battle potentially boiling over, spilling Hamilton/Rosberg away from Mercedes.

      In terms of the Mercedes conundrum, I think both drivers are mature enough to realise that staying put is entirely their best option. Though not particularly a fan of either, I do see Hamilton as a better driver than Rosberg (not by much!) and believe he will win the title; giving him even more grounds to stay put.

      At McLaren-Honda, I really think that Button-Magnussen is a good combination and will be more than competent should the engine elevate them to race-challenging status. The superstar driver is simply for PR and given the buy-out clauses on Alonso and Vettel, surely it’s not worth it, when they do have a WDC in Button (though not as highly rated as the aforementioned).

      I can only see that the ‘Silly Season’ will fall flat this year. Raikkonen seems destined to continue now and Red Bull won’t make changes unless it’s forced on them by Vettel leaving. I think it’ll be much the same come March I’m afraid!

      1. @ben-n : “not by much!”

        Despite having one more DNF Hamilton is currently ahead of Rosberg with 7 wins to 4. On track Hamilton has beaten Rosberg 6 times vs 3 of which he twice came from behind to do so. Rosberg has never come from behind to beat Hamilton. Not including retirements (1 each from pole), Hamilton has won every race he has started on pole this season (5) meanwhile Rosberg, despite having more poles (6), has only converted two of them to wins. They aren’t close at all.

        1. You can’t make conclusion before the season end, everyone know Rosberg worse than Hamilton, but everything can happen in last 5 races.

        2. @ryanisjones – the point of my comment wasn’t to debate which is better, that was meant as an aside!

          I take your point though!

        3. Yeh, we all know Hamilton is faster. The interesting thing now on the ‘home run’ is reliability of the Mercs for the remaining five races. If the cars hold together I expect Hamilton to win at least three of the five races. But who will win the final race??

    4. The problem with Grosjean is: where does he fit? I can’t see him wanting to drop to a team which has performed worse than Lotus has this year, so that rules out Sauber, Caterham and Marussia. He isn’t going to Mercedes or Williams. With McLaren’s talent pool (Vandoorne would probably be first pick, I feel he is ready) I can hardly see him going there, the same applies to Red Bull (Sainz, Vergne, Lynn) should Vettel leave, and Ferrari (Bianchi) too. That leaves Force India, and with Nico Hulkenberg scoring in 12 out of 14 races and Sergio Perez having a really strong race from time to time, I don’t see why they would get rid of either of those. Lotus could well be Grosjean’s only option. Remember that Lotus are supposed to have Mercedes engines for 2015, so it might not all be bad.

      1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        1st October 2014, 20:54

        @craig-o – Nicely put and the epitome of the problem faced by talented drivers both further down the grid and in the junior divisions; drivers that fifteen or so years ago would have been approached by top teams. Frankly, there are just too many fantastically talented racing drivers around. Vandoorne is a fascinating case for F1, because he is so ready for F1 and likely a Hulkenberg or Bottas grade talent; he’s certainly impressed during his tests this year. And yet, he is set to spend 2015 dominating the GP2 Series because there is just no room for him F1 at the moment: unless McLaren is feeling bold. A replacement for Massa or Perez may see him sneak in in 2016, but it is a shame he is highly unlikely to get the same chance his likely inferior fellow McLaren junior got.

    5. If Alonso does leave Ferrari, they should be bold and imaginative for once and promote Bianchi.

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        1st October 2014, 13:59

        @jules-winfield, ‘IF Alonso does leave Ferrari,’ I am sure Vettel will (re)send his resume within a second.

        1. @coldfly But if Alonso leaves, it’s because he sees a better future at a team that’s currently performing worse than Ferrari . . So why would Vettel want to take Alonso’s place at a team that is performing less well than Red Bull?

          1. @timothykatz, need I remind you, this is not called the LOGICAL season!

    6. Alonso-Button seemed the best option for McLaren, and Ferrari can lure Bianchi or Hulkenberg

      1. Ferrari can also break the bank and lure Daniel Ricciardo @f1indofans

        1. @jcost Yeah, Daniel would love to go to Ferrari to, as we know he also have Italian blood.

    7. I’d hate to see either Jenson or Kevin leave. Jenson has had previous ties with Honda which could prove helpful, not to mention his experience in the sport, and Kevin has been brought up by the team. It would be a shame for him to be punted after one season in which, let’s be honest, neither have been given a good car.

      1. One potential outcome I’ve seen mentioned is that Kevin reverts to a test driver role for a year (like Hakkinen) while Honda makes use of Alonso and Button’s experience. Button then retires at the end of 2015 ready for Kevin to return.

        I did mention it elsewhere a while back, but what’s to stop teams signing two drivers to share one seat like Klien and Liuzzi at Red Bull in 2005?

        I know it couldn’t work for a Championship contender, but for a team like Toro Rosso or Force India… why not?!

        1. I don’t seem to recall that working out too well..

          1. Yeah, didn’t Liuzzi get a pretty raw deal out of that? Only raced 4 times that year.

        2. That would be such a great idea. Put Magnussen on ice, go for the WCC and then let Button retire. Keeping good talent that shouldn’t be squandered within the team and giving said talent a good platform to make his own glory. @ben-n

    8. I doubt anything will change.

      As much as I’m happy to see Honda return there’s no guarantee that the Honda engine is going to be any good. Nor is there any guarantee that McLaren are going to stop their steady slip down the order.

      For that reason why would Vettel or Alonso leave? Alonso has the strongest backing at Ferrari than he’s going to get anywhere else and although Renault have had issues and Newey aside Red Bull are still going to be considerably strong for Vettel. Why would either of them leave the teams in second and third for a team that’s losing grip on fifth?

      I buy it’s a risk and they both could want to ‘do a Schumacher’, and while that’s laudably impressive if it turns out to be a poor choice it’ll kill their careers stone dead. At that McLaren are making noises like they’re a front-running team but nobody seems to have told them they’ve been midfield at best for the past couple of years – they need to stop talking up their future and focus on the now or they’ll find themselves drifting into years of anonymity like Williams endured.

    9. Alonso’s case is interesting. I don’t think he will be driving for them anymore come 2016, but for 2015 basically anything could happen. Honda is a massive gamble, because the odds that Honda can actually produce a championship winning power unit are slim. Then again, it could be the sort of gamble Alonso is after. Anyway, he’s still very young and I can imagine him joining an LMP1 team within a couple of seasons.

      I don’t understand the fuss about McLaren, because, let’s be honest, they are a midfield team at the moment. And on top of that, they are going to sacrifice the best power unit for a product that is most likely not going to be an improvement. So why would they hire two top drivers? I think they will just stick with Button and Magnussen for now.

      Moving on to Red Bull, I don’t think Vettel will want to move, he still seems comfortable there and they have given him the second-best car on the grid. A move to Ferrari just doesn’t make any sense.

      1. Alonso is 33 years (born July 81). Vettel (born July 87) is 6 years younger. Ferrari might need a few years to get a winning team together so Vettel could have more value to them.

    10. This just reminds me of how more exiting the driver market would have been had Robert Kubica still been in F1.

    11. McLaren will have Prodomou for aero in 2015, and Honda engine which looking so promising so far, I think it worth a gamble for Alonso because there’s nothing he could do much in Ferrari. its better to take a risk than staying around

      1. Mark in Florida
        1st October 2014, 22:44

        McLaren already has the best engine made and they are still a dog. What will Honda be able to do better than Mercedes? McLaren needs a world beating chassis not a new engine. Jenson has become a journeyman driver and Mags is still green though coming along. McLaren is hurting for some innovation that produces results not dead ends.

        1. Mercedes’ advantage comes from how engine and aero design went hand in hand. McLaren now have that opportunity, I wouldn’t count on it for 2015 afterall Prodomou only started work a few weeks ago so his influence over the 2015 concept isn’t going to be total. I say with McLaren all the pieces will fall into place for 2016 but with 2015 you just don’t know what they’ve got up their sleaves.

        2. Jenson is far from a journeyman driver. Since 2003 he’s only had 2 teams. BAR/Honda/Brawn (all the same team) and McLaren.

          I’m a big Jenson fan, but I don’t think he’s got much longer in F1. McLaren would be crazy to drop Magnussen and keep Jenson based on salary and their future plans alone. Jenson might just squeeze in another year, but he can’t be in any teams long term plans.

    12. I think alonso will be at mcLaren next season, probably alongside Button, I do however not believe the car will be competative just yet.

      As for who will take his seat at Ferrari, I suspect they will pick up Bianchi for one year alongside Raikonnen to learn the ropes of a top team and retain him alongside Vettel for 2016.

      Grosean unfortunatly has no better option than Lotus right now, which saddens em, I would love to see him in a top car!

      But the problem with today’s grid is, taht despite lots of talk about paydrivers, there are simply a lot of good drivers driving around!

      In my humble oppinion, the ones not cvurrently deserving of their place in F1 are:

      that’s only 5, and you might make an arguement against Massa, but despite the skewed numbers I feel he is holding his own against Bottas this year

      1. Maldonado out-raced Grosjean in the last 2 races, he still deserve a seat

        1. Maldonado is a menace. Even when you take his ’12 victory in Spain into account, the guy is reckless in the field and provides very little stability, except his cash flow. People said the same about Grosjean, but he turned it around. Crashtor has not. Even if he has speed.

        2. @f1indofans re: Singapore. Maldonaldo outraced Grosjean, whose Turbo was broken.

          1. Formula-I (@)
            2nd October 2014, 8:20

            As I remembered he only have it in Qualy

        3. Maldonado has as many points as Ericson.

      2. Massa has had all the bad luck from accidents to pitstops and that’s why the results seem off.

        McLaren have the same engine as Mercedes, Williams and Force India and I do not believe drivers are the problem even though I think they made a massive mistake with Perez and the only reason Button is a world champion is the double diffuser Honda had over the rest of the field. Their main issues are with the Aero as far as I am concerned and the general set up.

        Alonso may push the car further than the current line up but not enough to take on the Red Bulls Ferrari or Williams as it stands in the season so far.

        For Alonso’s chances to be at the front in 2015, Ferrari is probably a safer bet and they have shown nothing or no one will be spared to get back to the front, instead of an unknown pairing results of McLaren and Honda,

        1. the only reason Button is a world champion is the double diffuser Honda had over the rest of the field

          Just like Vettel only being a four-times world champion because of a trick blown diffuser, Schumacher only being a seven-times champion because of unlimited finances/testing or one of the two current Merc drivers winning this year because they have a mega engine & chassis combo compared to the rest of the field?

          Brawn GP had a similar diffuser design to both Toyota and Williams in 2009, but it’s not like we saw them challenging for the championship.

          At the end of the day, Jenson Button won the championship in 2009 because he did a better job than all of the other drivers on the track.

          1. Hey, every team gets the same rulebook each year right?
            Whoever makes the best deal of it for themselves wins.

          2. The difference is Schumacher won 2 titles with Benneton and 5 with Ferrari; Vettel dominated literally all other drivers for nearly half a decade. Button won in 2009 (paired with the most no 2 driver of all time), and Vettel wasnt far off, while the last five years in Mclaren are a big disappointment.

    13. I don’t expect we’ll see much change for next season. Hamilton and Rosberg will probably stick it out for another year – unless they have another coming together before this one is over – as they will both realise that Mercedes are likely to be on top again. It would make sense for Alonso to wait and see how the Honda power unit performs before leaving Ferrari, which would be a huge risk to take right now. Vettel will want to try to beat Ricciardo and show that this season was just a blip; even if it’s true that he wants to go to Ferrari, he has to wait for Alonso to make a move anyway.

      Williams have already confirmed both their drivers, which was the logical thing to do after their most successful season in years. Force India have a pair of highly talented drivers on their hands, but as long as there are no vacancies amongst the top teams, they’ll keep hold of them. Even McLaren will probably have the same lineup next year. I think they’ve been looking for a young driver to beat Button so they can replace him, but he has resisted well enough over the last two seasons to keep his position. Even if the team prefer Magnussen, they can hardly retire Button when he is their leading driver, with nearly twice as many points as the young Dane.

      Toro Rosso’s lineup has already been decided and I expect Lotus to have the same pairing next year as well, so that leaves only Sauber, Marussia and Caterham as the teams who might change their drivers. Bianchi will definitely be in the sport next year, and could actually move to Sauber, who, unlike Marussia, have a deal to use Ferrari engines for next season. I can’t say the same for any of the other five drivers at those teams, though. Caterham can’t even keep the same drivers for two consecutive races, let alone seasons.

      TL;DR – no significant change in 2015. Look to 2016 instead, when a couple of top drivers will retire and we’ll have a good idea of the strength of the Honda power unit.

    14. I admit I don’t get this at all. I have yet to hear a single reason why Alonso might want to switch a team for another team that is doing worse job with a better engine, a team where you have to really think hard to recall when they won WCC or WCD the last time.

      1. They last won a Championship in 2008… the same year as Ferrari… ;-)

        1. WCC in 98 though. If Hamilton hadnt gotten that one point in 2008, Mclaren would have a dreadful record.

          1. @austus and so would Hamilton. :)

    15. Without knowing what FA really feels about the lay of the land at Ferrari it’s hard to say but I think at a minimum he should stay at Ferrari for 2015 to see how the changes they have made affect everything, during which he can also see how Mac/Honda does next year. Then we’ll see. If Merc remains dominant next year, it’s going to be a tough one for him to decide, unless he can somehow end up there for 2016.

    16. Correct me if am wrong but their is a mistake in the above article, I thought that Grosjean had a total of 8 points in the 2014 drivers championship after the Singapore grand prix? (At least that is the total according to the Formula one .com website)

      1. Yeah, he get double 8th place consecutively (spain and monaco)

    17. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
      1st October 2014, 14:33

      I can’t help but feel the fluidity of the driver market has been exaggerated by a media very concious that 2014 will not feature major move headlines of 2013, and when the media is given no news it automatically speculates as to the source of future news. Personally, I would be amazed if we saw a move involving the top teams, i.e. Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull, following a season where three of those four changed their line up.

      And here are the truths BBC’s Andrew “assertion” Benson just does not want to hear: Alonso WILL NOT join McLaren in 2015, Vettel also WILL NOT join McLaren in 2015 and Hamilton is HIGHLY UNLIKELY to rejoin McLaren anytime soon. That said, Honda’s “we want a superstar” stance has added an interesting dynamic to not so much this year’s driver market, but 2016’s. I don’t agree with the tactic, why not simply hire the best driver available for 2015 [Hulkenberg] and turn him into a superstar, but the very real prospect of the McLaren-Honda partnership working well enough in 2015 to lure Alonso back to Woking could prove fascinating. Until then we will have to content ourselves with minor moves at Sauber, Caterham and Marussia…if they don’t go bust that is…

      1. So we shouldn’t believe Benson (who works in the F1 media), but we should believe you?

        Who are you, again?

        1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
          1st October 2014, 15:53

          @jules-winfield – Who I am is irrelevant, my point is Andrew Benson, the man who published an article in 2012 entitled “Vettel to join Ferrari in 2014” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/19941541), has been staggeringly stoic in his denial of the true perceived wisdom in the paddock, namely that most drivers will stay put, and has been the first to jump on weird and wonderful driver move rumours. As you can see in the link, being a member of the F1 media does not necessarily make you an omniscient journalistic “Peter perfect” of Aristotelian wisdom and Lockean morals.

        2. @jules-winfield Benson has on many times thrown up unfounded allegations and rumours on the BBC website. He also frequently paints Eddie Jordan’s witterings as fact, always citing that he was right about Schumacher and Hamilton moving into Mercedes as proof that he has some F1 crystal ball (and not just an insider at Mercedes).

      2. @william-brierty – And this weekend being key timing to promote the Alonso to Honda/Mcrumors because it is the Japanese Grand Prix and all and that’s when Honda will announce the dramatic news. After this weekend there will have to be another contrived deadline of sorts to announce this fantastic story.

        The big question really is, what would Alonso have to gain by moving to McLaren in 2015? They are likely to be an even bigger question mark next season than they are this season as a midfield team. Alonso constantly receives well deserved accolades for doing what he can with a car that is much closer to the front than McLaren. Why would he give that up to be likely mired in the midfield and having people question why can’t he do more with a car that needs massive chassis improvements and will be without the best power unit on the grid next season? I just don’t see the motivation to move for Alonso. For 2016, who knows? 2015, status quo at most teams I do believe.

        1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
          1st October 2014, 19:03

          @bullmello – I completely agree with everything you’ve said, and with regards a 2015 Alonso move, I think Honda’s silence on the matter during the Suzuka weekend will be the most notable thing. The funny thing is, unlike all of the rest of the motorsport world where signings are based on drivers impressing teams, Alonso is such a legend that a team is required to impress him before offering his services; McLaren-Honda are very much auditioning in 2015, both in terms of Honda’s ability to hit the ground running but also McLaren’s ability to rectify the chassis issues they’ve suffered that has left them a scarcely more than midfield team in the past two years. The later is a point that I think has been overlooked in the “Alonso to McLaren” debate.

          1. @william-brierty – I guess writers got to write something to spice things up and keep their jobs. Interesting to note McLaren is really doing nothing to quash these rumors either.

            I really do hope McLaren/Honda is a worthy competitor next season rather than scarcely more than a midfield team as you so aptly put it. It would make F1 much more enjoyable with McLaren toward the front again. Then they can realistically hope to attract someone like Alonso. At this point of peering into the looking glass I would give Ferrari a better chance of improving against the rest of the field next season than McLaren though.

            In the meantime, I await Honda’s deafening silence this weekend. LOL!

            1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
              2nd October 2014, 8:39

              @bullmello – I hope this year’s driver market isn’t too quite, I hope McLaren, Mercedes and Red Bull put their hands in their pockets so Vandoorne, Merhi and Sainz respectively can at least familiarize themselves with F1 in backmarker seats, and it’d be nice if Ferrari put Bianchi in Gutierrez’s seat (with compensation for losing the Telmex money) so they can properly evaluate him for Kimi’s place in 2016.

      3. “Personally, I would be amazed if we saw a move involving the top teams, i.e. Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull, following a season where three of those four changed their line up.”

        @william-brierty: Of the ones you mentioned, McLaren has already made up their mind – if not for 2015, for 2016 they want to hire either FA or SV. If McLaren snaps Vettel or Alonso for 2015, then surely there is vacancy at Redbull or Ferrari.

        Boullier went on to say “We are still pushing and we will take the time we need. We don’t want to do a mistake – we have one shot and we don’t want to miss it”. This is why you are seeing all this frenzy, irrespective what you feel.

    18. All kinds of fun scenarios possible. But I can’t think of a good fit at Red Bull to replace Vettel. Alonso to McLaren is interesting, but I just really hope he gets a car that does justice to his talent. It would be great to see Grosjean in a good car too. And as an aside, I really miss Kubica.

    19. Alonso should stay with Ferrari for 2015. And Mclaren should hold on to Button for 2015 because of his technical input (which is bound to be much better than Vandoorne’s). If Mclaren are a rocket (which I doubt they wiill be), everyone is going to try going there, I could even see the champions paydriving/freedriving to get a dominating car.

    20. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
      1st October 2014, 15:11

      If Alonso is considering McL-Honda for 2015, he’ll make that decision based on more information about Honda’s engine than we have at the moment (i.e., a photograph). For sure. Honda will be happy to share some details with him if they are confident about these details being able to lure him on board. So if Alonso goes to McL-Honda and leaves Ferrari, it might not be so much of a ‘gamble’ as some commenters and journalists make it appear to be.

    21. Difficult to say for Alonso. Him and Ferrari have always seemed like a match made in heaven. Alonso’s work ethic works perfectly with the Ferrari ethos. The only thing missing is the results. If he were to move then it will depend on just how happy he is at Ferrari, because certainly from a team dynamic perspective, he is happier at Ferrari than he was at McLaren.

      In terms of pure results however, I believe McLaren is a completely better option. It’s unimaginable that Ferrari can catch up with Mercedes and Red Bull by 2015. They may get a little closer but they won’t fight for the championship. Honda, of course, is an unknown quantity. They could “do a Mercedes” with the new engine and destroy the opposition. Or they could spend the winter producing very little power and then breaking down, like Renault. But still, the McLaren are much, much more likely to win the championship than Ferrari next year. So if Alonso wants the results more than he enjoys the team harmony he has with Ferrari, then it’s a no brainer. Move to McLaren.

    22. Vettel is already signed by Ferrari for 2015, so its normal that Alonso flies from Ferrari, he is searching a new place to drive in 2015. His best chances McLaren, Renault (if he gets a big sponsor). RedBull doesnt consider him as an option because he is too expensive and they have young cheap talents. Its a moment of time they make it official. But the rumours are going to be crazy next weeks 100% sure.

      1. How can you say for sure, that vettel has signed gor ferrari in 2015???

      2. Care to show where Vettel is signed for Ferrari with an official report ?

    23. Excellent article/analysis btw!

    24. I speculated Ocon into a Lotus seat previously, helped by being part of their development programme, the Mercedes link and his performances in the European F3. Given that Grosjean has been quite vocal and Maldonado has beaten him over the last two races, he’d best watch his seat, as there are no better alternatives for him and his team-mate is has already signed to stay put.

      1. @deej92 Grosjean’s turbo was broken at Singapore, so it’s hardly an indicator. Also, who has scored (all) the points this year?

        1. His turbo was broken in the race? Grosjean’s mistake after the safety car allowed Maldonado to finish ahead.

          Of course, Grosjean has outperformed Maldonado for most of the season, but I’m talking about current form as it coincides with drivers signing contracts, although for a team like Lotus, other factors may be prioritised. He doesn’t want to be going to the way of di Resta.

    25. In all likelihood, the Honda PU will be more powerful than Ferrari’s. But, given the last 2 years have probably been the worst in Mclaren history, I dont have much faith in the team. They are fighting for 6th place in the Constructors. Shameful with a Mercedes engine.

    26. Said it already and I’m saying it again: no drivers changes at Mercedes, Ferrari and RBR for 2015…… in my opinion.

      Don’t know about McLaren. They seem to want to replace Button for 2015. If they’ll keep him for 2015 too, the drivers changes at the top for 2016 will depend on how McLaren will perform in 2015.

    27. ok my predicitons for next year:
      Red Bull – Daniel Ricciardo & Sebastian Vettel
      Ferrari – Fernando Alonso & Kimi Raikkonen
      McLaren – Romain Grosjean & Kevin Magnussen
      Lotus – Pastor Maldonado & ???

      really don’t know who lotus should pick alongside maldonado.
      as for mclaren, i think grosjean can be considered a ‘top name’ (ok, no alonso or vettel, but sufficent) and with his former (?) manager at mclaren i see no reason why it can’t happen. ok, button is still good, but i get the feeling that mclaren will sack him after this year.

    28. Alonso will drive for Mclaren next year.

    29. What about Kimi back to McLaren? They need a ‘big’ name behind their campaign to push for the front again and Button is just mediocre at best. Kimi would have nothing to lose by making such a move, he isn’t exactly setting the world alight at Ferrari.

    30. A few stories elsewhere suggesting that Honda is actually behind schedule, with their PU. Reports say they are having big problems regarding the power output, to fuel consumption ratio. True or false, who knows.

    31. GB (@bgp001ruled)
      2nd October 2014, 1:37

      alonso should go to hrt! oh, wait…

    32. I think Alonso will stay in Ferrari for 2015 waiting for an opportunity window in Mercedes for 2016.

    33. Alonso has many reasons to leave Ferrari. It’s all about what vibes is he getting within Ferrari. Since di Montezemolo and Domenicali left, i am sure Alonso would have been trying to see where the new leadership stands, and how highly they rate him. If Alonso is getting the feeling, that new leadership is all about Ferrari bigger than all, noone is indispensable, Fiat starting influencing things etc etc, then he will start feeling uncomfortably. Yea, he may say all the time ferrari is bigger than him, than deep inside he wants recognition. He wants to feel that he is very important within he team. You cant just tell to Alonso ferrari is bigger than everyone, because even though this is true, you just make the guy feel uncomfortable and diminished.
      So Alonso will have to choose, between Ferrari, with its new Moto ” ferrari is bigger than everyone” and “noone is indispensable” or Mclaren/Honda ,when for Mclaren/Dennis just by asking him to join them, is like they are admitting the very poor handling of the situation back @ 2007, and for Honda showing to the whole world how bad they want him, and how highly they rate him, even by buying out his remaining contract.
      Alonso will for sure choose to go to the team where he will feel needed and indispensable.
      Yea it may be a risk, bit its a calculated one.
      Keep in mind that
      1.Honda engine is not bound to any engine freeze. After seeing all the concepts and do their study they will choose what ever they want, with no engine freeze restrictions.
      2.Mclaren will be Honda works team, meaning that they will have an engine designed and optimized for them and for their chassis, not like today, where they have an engine designed and optimized for Mercedes chassis.
      3. Prodromou will most likely lay down all the secrets red bull is carrying on their chassis. At least the little bits that Mclaren wasn’t aware of.
      4. Remember my words. After Honda badly executed withdrawal (Fiasco if you ask me), giving away for free, a champion winning chassis, and a budget to Brawn , just to make him richer by many million dollars, one year after when he sold most of his stakes to Mercedes, Honda will be coming back to make a Statement. I truly believe that they mean Business.

      All and all, for me will be a Calculated Risk for Alonso. I think it will be good for F1, if Alonso moves to Mclaren.
      I think after the Shake up of the rules and the engine specification, F1 really needs and shake up in the Drivers Market also, to complete the revamp. It will be good for the show.

    Comments are closed.